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Mandat began his clarinet studies under the tutelage of Richard Joiner of the Denver Symphony. He later studied with Lee Gibson, Keith Wilson, D. Stanley Hasty, and Charles Neidich. Mandat received his undergraduate education at the University of North Texas, and received graduate degrees from the Yale School of Music, and the Eastman School of Music.
In his performances and compositions, Mandat uses extended techniques such as multiphonics and microtones. In a November 2005 review of Sean Osborn's American Spirit CD, Fanfare Magazine remarked that Mandat's music creates "amazing technical effects for the instrument" that are "startling and eerie." In a review in The Clarinet of Mandat's Folk Songs, the author found that “A composition of this caliber will most likely enter the performance repertoire as the representative piece of the decade!” Reviewing Mandat's solo CD, The Extended Clarinet, in The Clarinet, Michele Gingras wrote that, “In one word, The Extended Clarinet is astonishing. Eric Mandat’s process at writing and playing is bound to leave any listener in awe.” Although most of his corpus consists of works for solo clarinet, more recent compositions are for clarinet ensembles.
Mandat currently serves as Professor of Music and Distinguished Scholar at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and he has also taught as Visiting Professor of Music at Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Students from his studio at Southern Illinois University Carbondale have included Sean Osborn of the Metropolitan Opera, concert recitalist Michael Norsworthy, international performer and teacher Boja Kragulj, and many other orchestral clarinetists and clarinet professors.
He frequently performs in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's MusicNOW Series (including as principal clarinet for Pierre Boulez's 80th Birthday Concert under Boulez's baton and a performance of Osvaldo Golijov's Ayre with Dawn Upshaw). He also regularly performs with the Tone Road Ramblers, an independent ensemble specializing in experimental and improvised music. His reviews of new clarinet recordings frequently appear in The Clarinet. Mandat's recordings include his own solo clarinet CD entitled The Extended Clarinet, as well as recordings with the Tone Road Ramblers and the Transatlantic Trio.
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- Chamber Music of Eric Mandat by Suzanne Crookshank, VDM Verlag Dr. Müller (July 4, 2008)
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- "Tone Road Ramblers –". Morganpowellmusic.com. Retrieved 2016-07-26.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-29. Retrieved 2011-11-06.